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UPDATE 1-Newmont targets dividend boost by at least 50 pct in 2018

(Adds comments from Newmont Chief Financial Officer)

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Newmont Mining Corp said on Wednesday that it plans to boost its dividend by at least 50 percent in 2018, based on balance sheet improvements and the performance of its gold mines.

The Colorado-based miner, which had $3 billion in cash with $1.1 billion debt at the end of September, also issued an updated five-year outlook, with modestly higher gold production.

"We're in a position to continue to invest in our future and focus on returns to shareholders," Chief Financial Officer Nancy Buese said via webcast from an investor update in New York.

"We are moving away from a dividend structure directly linked to gold price and towards a strategy that reflects the durability of our production pipeline and the stability of our business."

Newmont, which had sweetened its gold-price linked dividend in the past, did not specify the structure, or formula for its new dividend. The company's board, which Buese said is supportive of the change, will decide on the revised policy in February, based on Newmont's fourth-quarter results.

For the first three quarters of 2017, Newmont made dividend payments totaling 20 cents per common share and was expected by analysts to pay 30 cents a share for the full year.

In 2016, it paid a total dividend of 25 cents, up from 12.5 cents in 2015 and 10 cents in 2014.

Newmont said it now expects 2018 output of 4.9 million to 5.4 million ounces of gold, up from the 4.7 million to 5.2 million ounces it previously forecast.

The all-in sustaining cost of producing an ounce of gold, an industry benchmark, is now projected at $965 to $1,025, compared with an earlier estimate of $950 to $1,050. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Susan Thomas)